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Fast Break: Celtics-Magic

05.16.10 at 6:30 pm ET

Final Score: Celtics 92, Magic 88
Series: Celtics 1-0

The Celtics looked to be on cruise control for the first three quarters before their offense went cold and the Magic nearly pulled off a comeback in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics held on for a 92-88 victory in Orlando, but the win did not come without uncertainty down the stretch.

It was fitting that a game featuring a pair of First Team All-Defensive Players (Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo) would start off as low-scoring duel. Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter, combining for just 36 points. The Celtics took a 22-14 lead after shooting 37 percent compared to 20 percent by the Magic.

Ray Allen led all players with 8 points while Pierce added seven in just eight minutes (he was sidelined with two early fouls). Howard led the Magic with six points, although the C’s defense forced him to shoot 1-for-5 from the field.

In spite of five boards from Howard, the Celtics had a more balanced attack on the glass. The outrebounded the Magic, 16-10, behind five boards from Kevin Garnett, four from Ray Allen, and three from Rondo.

The Celtics went on a 7-0 run at the start of the second quarter to push the lead up to 15, 29-14. The Magic got back in the game, though, as Marcin Gortat provided a spark off the bench in place of Howard. He got to the basket with ease and scored six points in three minutes. The Magic cut the deficit to 33-24 before Ray Allen and Tony Allen pushed the C’s lead back up to 41-32 at halftime.

Jameer Nelson opened the third quarter by knocking down eight points (including two 3-pointers) in less than two minutes. The Magic swapped buckets to keep the game within three points before the Celtics went on a 17-2 run and took a 62-44 lead with just five minutes left in the quarter. Pierce scored 13 points in the third alone while the Celtics outscored the Magic, 33-26, to go up 74-58 after three.

The Celtics watched a 16-point fourth quarter lead dwindle to just five points, 88-83, with 1:30 to go. The Magic were aggressive coming out of the third, going on an 11-5 run to cut the Celtics lead to 10 points. The C’s responded with a run of their own to push their edge back into double digits. But the Magic continued to chip away as the quarter went on and took advantage of a Celtics offensive drought.

The C’s were scoreless for five-and-a-half minutes in the fourth. During that time, Ray Allen lost the ball on a fast break against Nelson, resulting in a jump ball between Rondo and J.J. Reddick with a minute left. Reddick won the jump and retained possession as the ball went out of bounds off of Garnett at the Magic’s basket. Howard made a layup to bring the Magic within three, 88-85, before Pierce drew a foul with 12 seconds remaining and pushed the Celtics lead to five. Carter drew a foul and intentionally missed the second shot, which a racing Nelson laid in with eight seconds left. Ray Allen iced the Celtics win with a pair of free throws as Lewis missed a 3-pointer as time ran out.

Game 1 Notables:

High Scorers:
Celtics –
Ray Allen: 25 points (8-16 FG, 2-5 3PG, 7-7 FT)
Magic –
Vince Carter: 23 points (9-18 FG, 5-6 FT)

Defensive Stoppers:
Celtics –
Kevin Garnett (11 rebounds)
Magic –
Dwight Howard (12 rebounds, 5 blocks)

Point Guard Battle:
Celtics –
Rondo: 8 points (4-10 FG), 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
Magic -
Nelson: 20 points (8-18 FG, 2-7 3PG), 2 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 turnovers

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